10 important skills to focus on and emphasize in all of your training:
1. Pump Fakes – Using deception with your stick is one of the greatest skills we stress. Pump fakes give the ability to free your hands to pass as well as be deceptive in your passing when finding an open player.
2. Wind up - Using a wind up gives you the ability to “freeze” your defender momentarily to dodge, pass, or shoot.
3. Finishing – Shooting percentage is one of the most important aspects of the game. Finishing around the cage with a higher percentage is something we take seriously. We teach players to finish to the center of the field to increase their angle and get the goalie moving side to side to open up space.
4. Shallow Cut – The shallow cut is a simple skill that teaches players to move off ball and create motion. When a player carries towards you, you simply cut underneath and replace their position on the field. By shallow cutting you give your teammate space to operate. If your defenseman stays on you or if your defensemen double the ball you are open to make a play
5. Off ball V-Cut, and Back Door Cut – Moving off ball and getting open is another important skill especially against a pressure defense. A V-cut allows a player to get open to receive a pass, and if they are still covered by using a back door cut the player now has an advantage against his defenseman without dodging to gain that advantage.
6. Carrying/Handling – Having poise and being comfortable with the ball is the focus of carrying. Most offenses do one of two things, either move the ball around the outside, or initiate a dodge that makes their offensive motion move. We believe in carrying the ball as a skill to create motion inside the offense. Simply by carrying and handling the ball, and reading the situation, a player should be able to create motion from his teammates. Also, against a pressure defense, we stress the ability to be comfortable with the ball while being pressured to maintain control and to be able to dictate what you want to do, rather than have the defense hurry you and your motion up.
7. Backpedal – Great one on one defense is the foundation for all of our defensive training. One on one defense starts with the ability to trust your footwork, specifically your back pedal, as a defenseman. The more you are able to keep a defender in front of you without turning your hips, will give the offensive player fewer options as they run out of space or away from the cage.
8. Pursuit angles – If a defenseman does get beaten on an individual basis, or loses a step, they need to be able to properly recover. We stress the importance of taking the correct pursuit angle to recover to the proper defensive position in front of the dodger.
9. Glue – We see all kinds of different checks, slaps, pokes, rusty gates, even kayaks. However each one of those checks at some point in time forces the defensemen to give the offensive player time to free their hands to pass or shoot. We emphasize the concept of GLUE to make the offensive player uncomfortable. GLUE means as opposed to constantly checking the offensive player, the defensemen simply keeps their stick on the offensive player’s hands. This forces them to adjust or roll away to get their hands free to make a pass.
10. Press and Collapse (defensive) – The skill of pressing and collapsing is a subtle art that we try and focus on extensively. As mentioned earlier, most offenses do one of two things, pass the ball around the outside, or dodge to create motion. We try to take advantage of those situations by making the offensive player uncomfortable and causing mistakes. If the ball is being moved around the outside, we teach our players to press out to make the players uncomfortable. As the offense dodges to the cage, we teach our players to collapse in to help defensively.